One major misalignment that I observe in most of my clients is a lack of gluteal strength. Due to an increase in sedentary lifestyles, many people have practiced unconscious compensation patterns that make it very difficult to activate these muscles. Getting the glutes to wake up can therefore feel next to impossible for many people because they are used to firing their hamstrings and lower back muscles instead. Some reasons why the glutes are crucial to having a healthy body include: lower back stability, proper placement and tracking of the patella, hip and ankle strength and maintaining proper alignment during walking and running.
Activating the glutes properly is a process that takes time and focus to practice the correct firing patterns and get them to coordinate with and support the rest of the body. The gluteal muscles are a group of muscles that include the gluteus maximus (the largest muscle in the body), gluteus minimus and gluteus medius with the tensor fasciae latae slightly front and side of the rest. Part of what makes it tricky to strengthen the glutes is that many of the hip extension exercises are done with improper form, which only strengthens the improper firing patterns that are already in place and therefore brings the person into deeper misalignment.
Here are some of my favorite exercises that target different parts of this group, which all need to work together in a balanced fashion in order to maintain a healthy system.
BRIDGE Lie on your back with feet flat and knees bent and lift your hips in the air for a count of 20. REPEAT 2x
STANDING SINGLE LEG LIFTS Stand up tall and reach your arms forward while you lift one leg to the side 20x. ALTERNATES SIDES 2x.
SIDE PLANK + HIP ABDUCTION Lie on your side with your feet flexed and stacked on top of one another. Place your elbow underneath your shoulder. Lift your hips in the air for a count of 25. ALTERNATE SIDES 2x.
CLAM SHELL Lie on your side with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle and feet stacked on top of one another. Open your knee to the side while keeping your hips still and stacked well on top of one another and ankles touching 20x. ALTERNATE SIDES 2x.